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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Dec 18;104(51):20600-5. Epub 2007 Dec 11.

Individual faces elicit distinct response patterns in human anterior temporal cortex.

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  • 1Section on Functional Imaging Methods, Laboratory of Brain and Cognition, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Visual face identification requires distinguishing between thousands of faces we know. This computational feat involves a network of brain regions including the fusiform face area (FFA) and anterior inferotemporal cortex (aIT), whose roles in the process are not well understood. Here, we provide the first demonstration that it is possible to discriminate cortical response patterns elicited by individual face images with high-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Response patterns elicited by the face images were distinct in aIT but not in the FFA. Individual-level face information is likely to be present in both regions, but our data suggest that it is more pronounced in aIT. One interpretation is that the FFA detects faces and engages aIT for identification.

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